News Notes

Palhallan Killing

Palhallan-KillingA nocturnal raid followed by protests the next day. It was February 9. And some youth had hit the streets in restive Palhallan. They were demanding Afzal Guru’s mortal remains. Cops fired; one youth was shot dead. “The incident is highly regrettable and unfortunate,” the police set the records straight.

Farooq Ahmad Bhat of Palhallan became another victim of police firing this week and thus simmered this town in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district again. “Police has taken cognizance into this highly regrettable and unfortunate incident,” the police clarified. “FIR has been registered and the incident is being investigated to ascertain the facts.”

And soon a freshly appointed DC Baramulla, Talat Parvez, setup an enquiry committee headed by Sub District Magistrate Pattan to investigate the “unfortunate” killing of a youth by police.

But before that, the separatist camp had reacted. Both Hurriyats – M and G – had issued a strike call. And meanwhile, the former chief minister of the state who has a reputation of piling up of 120 bodies in the summer of 2010 expressed profound grief over the death. Omar Abdullah demanded a probe into the killing. His party General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar and various senior party leaders too expressed grief.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Sub-Divisional Magistrate Pattan Hameeda Begum visited the bereaved family. She shot a letter to SDPO Pattan asking him to provide the names along with belt numbers of all those cops who were present on spot when the killing occurred.

But despite police claims that a formal case against the killers of Palhalan youth will be registered, the father of Faooq Ahmed Bhat Wednesday revealed that police instead of registering an FIR against the killers has registered a case against his slain son and injured youth.

Bhat said that police has registered an FIR vide number 29/2014 under section 307,147,332,427 against his slain son and the injured youth battling for life in the hospital. “Police chief had said that a case will be registered against the killer cops, but I was surprised when I came to know that instead of lodging an FIR against the cops, police has registered a case against my dead son and the injured youth lying in the hospital,” he said.

Amid all this, the head of investigating officer appealed all the eyewitnesses to come forward and record their statements.

Screening Solidarity

As  Kashmir resumed its normal life on Thursday after observing death anniversaries of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat and against death of a youth, two universities in New Delhi discussed the Kashmir imbroglio.

Late Wednesday evening when Kashmir was shut in memory of Maqbool Bhat (JKLF Founder), students of Jawahar Lal University (JNU) in West Delhi organized a public meeting to discuss Kashmir’s Right to Self Determination.

“The Undying Spirit of Kashmir: The question of self-determination – a public meeting,” was organized by Democratic Students Union of JNU where in senior Professor at Delhi University Dr SAR Geelani spoke.

Prof Geelani, one of the 2001 parliament attack convicts, in his address to the students narrated his association with Afzal Guru in jail and said, “Afzal told me that Azaadi is destiny of Kashmiris.”

“Prof Geelani explained the importance of Right to Self Determination to Kashmiris, and as how and when India promised same to people of Jammu and Kashmir quoting history of Kashmir dispute,” one of the students who attended the program said.

The organizers of the event alleged that though JNU is known for its “accommodation, assimilation and freedom of expression” but to organize such a ‘pro-Kashmir’ program was not easy for them.

“ABVP sympathizers made it hard for us to assemble and organize this program,” one of the organizers said.

“They first tried to stop Prof Geelani from entering the venue and then they cut down the electricity of the hall in which the program was going on,” a student said adding, “It did not stop us, we used torches and the speaker did not stop too.” “We had to form a human chain to save Prof Geelani from the wrath of ABVP youth.”

Meanwhile, in South Delhi, Jamia Millia Islamia hosted screening of Sailabnama – documentary made by Kashmiri students during Kashmir Floods of 2014.

Directed by Qazi Zaid and Sheikh Saaliq, the film narrates the devastating tales of September Floods.

Pertinently, the duo was involved in voluntary rescue and relief operations during the floods.

“We didn’t go to Kashmir to make a film but we went to help our people stuck in floods. It was when we came back that we realized that we had a lot of footage that spoke on its own,” co-director of the film, Sheikh Saaliq said.

“The chaos that was there during the time is reflected in the film.”

Kashmir’s 9/11

Every year in the second week of February, Kashmir recalls its two ‘heroes’, in different ways, and shuts in the memory of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat and Mohammad Afzal Guru. The norm is continuing since Bhat was hanged in 1984.

February 11, has since then been like a holiday when Kashmir shuts for sure. And after 2013, when Guru was hanged in the same jail on February 09, it has become another day. All pro-freedom groups call for a shutdown and state officials put the Kashmir under undeclared curfew.

Since their hanging, the protest continues for the return of their mortal remains buried inside India’s Tihar jail.

The duo was hanged in India’s Tihar jail for ‘conspiring’ against India. Bhat was hanged in 1984 and Guru 29 years after, in 2013 as a convict of Indian Parliament attack.

Kashmir’s history suggests Bhat’s execution became a rallying point for armed insurgency in 1989 which is continuing till date.  And Guru’s hanging is still compelling pro-freedom and mainstream politicians to talk about it.

It was under the regime of Kashmir’s oldest mainstream political party, National Conference, when Guru was hanged and since then all others are mudslinging on other parties like Congress and PDP for being responsible for the secret hanging of Guru.

But on the second death anniversary of Guru,  when NC is not in power its general secretary Advocate Ali Mohammad Sagar gave a statement that Guru’s mortal remains should be handed over to his family, which he did not said when he was in power.

On the other side Shahi Tharoor, senior congress leader and former union minister tweeted about Guru, “I think the hanging was both wrong and badly handled. Family should have been warned, given a last meeting and body returned.”

Pertinently the decision of Guru’s hanging was taken by Congress party in center and NC at the state but NC party claims they were ‘not’ informed well in time and they held PDP responsible for the hanging.


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